A Break from the Break

Summer is supposed to be a break, right? The kids get a break from school and/or full-time daycare. I get a break from work. We get a break from School Year Schedule that is full and rigorous, and exchange it for a slower, more open Summer Schedule.  It’s supposed to be easy…well, easier anyway.

Except that a lot of times it’s not easy at all. In fact, summer can be downright difficult.

I’ve mentioned before that I try to have something for us to do each day whether we head to a park, the library, the splash pad, or the farmer’s market. But sometimes it rains. Sometimes the bickering and whining is too much that I don’t even trust that leaving the house will help–and it might actually result in a worse meltdown, and in public.

We need some sort of break from each other on those days.

Because we (let’s be honest here: I) need these breaks often, my kids probably get more screen time than most during the summer. Alice’s break is her nap (thank the Lord), but the boys need to be separated for part of the day too.

Days like yesterday that are lovely and not so horribly hot that we feel like we are on the face of the sun, I shoo the boys outside. In fact, I may have even been so desperate for them to stay out of the house that I tossed their afternoon snack of a Popsicle off the deck and made them catch them. Allegedly.

But on days like Monday and Wednesday when the storms started around 9am and continued ALL DAY LONG, they needed something else.

You know this means Netflix.

Netflix is the way we take a break from each other. Our house is not that big. It’s easy to be all in each other’s business, so the boys can either sit in separate chairs and watch the same thing like Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale–which is kind of cool because it’s like a choose your own adventure show.

They giggle about songs and choose which way to have the story go.

Or if the need to be physically AWAY from each other (or I get sick of the stupid “trout” song on Puss in Book), one can be upstairs watching Octonauts (Charlie) on our smart TV, and the other can be downstairs watching the latest episodes of Dawn of The Croods (Eddie) on the Wii.

Sure we also play games or read books, but let’s be real. The best way to make the house quiet is to turn on something everyone wants to watch.

Which is probably why we watched Zootopia again this week. Twice.

What?

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. Netflix provides streaming and devices to watch it on, but we choose what we watch and provide our own opinions. And yes, we really do love Zootopia that much. It’s almost a sickness.

Not Yet

We had plans to move this summer. We created a list and even started checking stuff off (but not much): clean the walls, repaint the trim, fill holes in the drywall (thanks, kids), wash the cabinets, purge the closets and toy room, replace the carpet, and a few other odds and ends.

We saw a few houses we liked, but not loved.

And then…nothing.

I knew it would happen as soon as summer hit. We would stretch beyond the walls of our house into our yard and never want to leave. Sure enough. That first warm day after working around the house, we pulled out the bag chairs and beers while the kids played, positioned ourselves under our anniversary tree, and the feeling washed over us: we weren’t ready to let go just yet.

The view to the back when we sit under our tree.

Our house is not tiny; in fact when we walked through it that first time twelve-and-a-half-years ago as an engaged couple on a budget, we thought it seemed huge! A bi-level with a finished upper-level: two bedrooms and a bath, an open-concept kitchen, dining, and living area with an unfinished downstairs: large potential family room with drywall, but nothing else, a laundry room, and the potential for a third bedroom and second bathroom. It was brand new still being built. There was no lawn or any landscaping to speak of. It was snowing the first time we saw it.

I was moving from a tiny single-level house that my grandparents owned that was over a hundred years old. Its beginning was two chicken coops literally pushed together for a long-distant aunt who was coming to live on the family farm. We had to add a stand-up shower in the “mudroom” because the bathroom was just a toilet and sink that my grandpa had put in himself (which, let’s face it, is better than an outhouse). There was no laundry–I still took my stuff to my parents’ house every other weekend. Heat was a giant heater/boiler thing in the middle of the living room that was LOUD and HOT when it was on. In the summer, I cooled the whole place with one window AC unit.

So our current house seemed ginormous compared to that. Plus we were about to get married and had no idea if we even wanted children. This place was perfect.

Now we have three kids and all their stuff jammed into this house. The boys share the room downstairs and Alice has the second upstairs bedroom. There is stuff crammed into every closet, drawer, cupboard, nook, and cranny. I curse at the lazy susan every time I have get a plastic storage container and they all topple over me, or I pinch my finger trying to cram everything in before it swings around.

I blow a gasket every time I open the pots and pans cupboard and stuff slides around and falls on my toe. I sigh when I open the hall closet the we converted into a pantry when I see how jam-packed it is when looking for the popcorn popper. My counter tops are full (which I hate. I like bare, neat counter tops). There are always piles of change, Pokemon cards, and pebbles (ahem, Charlie) on my island. There is a play kitchen in my real kitchen. Books are exploding off shelves.

Things are not ideal.

But right now, the deck is my personal space. There are no stairs going down to the backyard and there is nothing but my chair and the grill out there. It’s sort of a kid-repellent and I love it.

Sometimes these goobs haul chairs back by me though. I suppose I’ll keep them.

Our yard looks better than ever thanks to Cortney’s hard work out there. He expanded the sandbox for the kids, and created a new perennial garden for me. We are talking about ditching the patio table we never use and getting a picnic table we can move around–I’d like it to live under our front yard tree.

Right now–in this moment–we are comfortable and content.

And honestly, Cort and I just can’t find what we are looking for in our price range. We absolutely do not want to settle. We plan on this being it: our home until our children put us in the The home.

We know we don’t want less land than we have now. We want a master suite, preferably on the main floor. We want main floor laundry. We are ok with the boys continuing to share a room while Alice has her own, but we know we would like an office area with a desk and book shelves, so at least one more bedroom than we have now. We know we would like a larger kitchen/dining area. Cortney wants a front porch and I want a back deck. We would like a three-stall garage or at least an out building where we can store the lawn mower and various lawn care things.

I need lots of natural light. Cortney needs a special place for his beer fridge (and craft brew collection, ahem).

We want to be in the kids’ current school district.

I’ll be starting grad school again soon, so maybe it’s not the best time to take on a move right now. Some day, because this is not our forever home.

It’s definitely our home right now, though.

A Decade of Words

Ten years ago today I opened up a new blogspot account and started Sluiter Nation. All of our closest friends had moved out of state, so I thought maybe having a “website” to post pictures would be a good way to keep everyone up-to-date.

I’ve been consistently (sometimes more consistently than others) putting my words here. They range from the mundane (updates and giveaways and some product reviews) to the deeply personal.

I believe this blog made me the writer/teacher I am today.

This little blog of mine reunited with me with a high school friend named Emily (formerly known as DesignHER Momma) who had moved to Indianapolis. She connected me with Indy bloggers like Casey (Moosh in Indy) and to Curvy Girls like Brittany Herself who made me want to write better. They also showed me BlogHer.

Emily’s honesty helped me recognize I had postpartum depression after Eddie was born.

That led me to all the Warrior Moms.

I started to write very honestly about my struggles.

I went to BlogHer. I tried to find myself as a blogger for a long time. I did product reviews occasionally, giveaways here and there, and tried to separated my writing and teaching lives.

It wasn’t until after Charlie was born that I realized that my writing and teaching actually fit better together than trying to be a mom blogger.

It was also during this time that some of my personal essays about my struggle with my mental health were published in anthologies. I started to realize that maybe I have a gift. I’m not a best-selling author–nor will I ever be–but I have the ability to put my thoughts into print.

I started to read Young Adult Literature and become passionate about my career in a way I never did before. I began writing for Education sites, (currently I write for The Educator’s Room). Friends and colleagues encouraged me to write about my teaching experiences and research for education journals.

Now I am in the process of applying to a new graduate program to get my PhD in English Education.

Wednesday I was trying to trace back how I got to this place, and I believe it comes back to this space.

I’ve made true friends because of this space. I’ve traveled across the country by myself because of this space. I have taken so many more chances on opportunities that I would have NEVER done because of this space.

On an internet where more and more bloggers are closing up shop, I plan to keep my little space open and chugging along. This is our life right now. It’s who I am right now.

Yay, Ten!

Old Blue

Let me tell you a story. That is what this space is for, yes? The main character of this story is not one of my children and it’s not my husband and it’s not me. The main character of this story is a member of the family. Sort of. This character was here before there was a Kate & Cort.

Meet Blue. Or Old Girl. Or Old Blue. Or The Blazer.

I met her in August of 2003. It was the same day I was offered my teaching position in Wyoming (that is the school district, not the state). I had had an interesting, long, challenging summer. That is a story for another time. The thing to know is that Cortney was there the whole time–as my friend. The person who made sure I was eating and leaving my house with some regularity. Anyway, he bought The Blazer the day I got my first teaching job.

He let my news overshadow his even though he was thoroughly excited about his truck. He let me gush. He let me celebrate. I also noticed, upon my first ride in her, that Cortney had taken a “K” sticker I had given him earlier in the summer (I have no idea anymore why I gave it to him) that he had in his car and moved it to his new truck. But you know, I didn’t think anything of it.

It is now in a frame by his side of the bed. Aw!

What can I say? Sometimes the rear-view mirror is clearer than the windshield.

Anyway, that was all almost fifteen years ago. Now the Old Girl has been scrubbed and shined up because it’s time. Time for a new home for her. Watching Cort polish her up brought back all the memories.

Shortly (very shortly) after Cortney brought Old Blue home, we started dating. I guess he meant what he said at that concert after all.

The Blazer became our main mode of transportation. We took it whenever we went out together anywhere. When I would see him pull up, the sight of that blue truck with the Pearl Jam Alive guy on the front gave me butterflies because I knew Cortney would be walking through the door. Shoot, it still makes my tummy flop over when I see it on the road.

We were engaged in less than eight months. That summer the Blazer took us to Buffalo, Niagara Falls, and Rochester, New York. The next summer it took us on our honeymoon to Myrtle Beach. We have driven to Chicago and back countless times in Old Blue. Cortney and I quickly fell in love with road tripping together. He drove, I navigated. We talked. We were quiet. We sang along to the radio. And we laughed. A lot.

Someday I’ll tell the story of those trips because they were great.

Not every trip in Old Blue was happy. She took oncologist appointments for Cortney’s dad, family prayer meetings for Cortney’s dad, and the church for Cortney’s dad’s funeral.

She also took us to that doctor’s appointment in 2007 when I found out I was pregnant. And the one where I found out I wasn’t anymore.

She took us back out to Rochester, NY to visit friends and do a little wine tour of part of the Finger Lakes. Then, in the summer of 2007, she took us out to Montana via North Dakota and home again via South Dakota. It was on that trip that Cortney had his last cigarette. He quit smoking in Old Girl which means he’s been a non-smoker for a decade.

In 2009 she carried us to the hospital as I labored with Eddie. Four days later, she carried Eddie home for the first time. She did the same for Charlie in 2012.

She has taken us camping and canoeing and cottaging. She has taken us to the beach and across bridges and through mountains both literally and figuratively.

She has been part of our marriage longer than we have been part of our marriage.

And now we are saying goodbye.

She is old. She is not as reliable as she once was. She is not big enough for all five of us to ride in at once. It’s a good thing that Cortney got a different vehicle.

But it’s weird to let something that has always been there go.

She was part of our beginning.

It’s a good thing to let those things go because it means we are trucking through this life and getting on and getting by and loving into new years of our marriage. It’s good to get to a point that you have been together longer than the stuff you’ve had.

If that makes sense.

It’s still a strange thing to let part of our beginning go, but that means we are now moving away from beginning. We are in the middle.

I think I like being in the middle.

Eight is Great!

Dear Eddie,

You are eight and eight is GREAT, of course.

Let me tell you all about yourself as you are right now.

You are absolutely, without a doubt, my showman. You love to have people look at and listen to you. Ever since you could toddle around, you have wanted to play with or near me (or your dad). You want to be able to give running commentary on what you are thinking. Just today, you had the entire Lego bin upstairs so you could design and build and talk. Your mind is constantly working; the wheels constantly turning. I know this, because mine is exactly the same.

In fact, Daddy and I laugh sometimes at how we can be talking about one thing, and you start talking about something totally different with no segue or introduction or anything. We often have to stop and say, “wait. What are you talking about?” We laugh because I used to do the exact same thing–all the way until I was in college. Ok I still do it to some degree.

You are such a compassionate, deep thinker. You question everything shamelessly. I admire that about you. A few weeks ago you and I were riding in the car and you said to me, “Mom. Sometimes I find it so strange that I am who I am. Like I am in this body just being a person and seeing things through my eyes. I know, that’s sort of weird and I don’t know how to explain it.” But the thing is, Eddie? I totally knew what you were talking about. When I was your age, I used to just stare out a window and think those sort of thoughts too. Shoot. I still do.

You and I have so much in common. Our brains operate much the same way. This serves us well now; we have a great relationship. We enjoy being with each other because we enjoy the same things: reading, writing, relaxing, talking. Don’t get me wrong. You like a LOT of stuff I honestly don’t care much about: Pokemon, video games, Captain Underpants, and that stupid trout song from Puss in Books on Netflix. Actually we have almost zero in common when it comes to choosing what to watch on Netflix.

But we both like to be silly. We both think a lot. We both believe in being kind. We both want to make people smile. We both believe in standing up for what is just and right.

In fact, your 2nd grade teacher this year told Daddy and me that you were a little activist. Daddy rolled his eyes and said, “I wonder where he got that?” and looked at me. I was smiling hugely, because you and I are the same.

And yet, we are not the same in some key areas. At your age I was not as socially brave as you are. I was afraid to try new things because I was afraid to fail. You are confident and willing to give anything a go. You just want to have fun whether that is in sports or school or scouts. I would not say you are serious or particularly passionate about any one thing just yet. This is apparent when anyone asks you what you want to be when you grow up.

In your mind, the whole world is open to you. You can do whatever you set your heart on. And right now, it is true. But what I want you to know is that is a privilege for you. You live a very privileged life, my son. It’s not because we are rich, because we certainly are not. It is not because you get whatever you want when you want it, because you certainly do not. But by happenstance of birth, you live a very comfortable life. You were born into a white, middle-class family who lives in a nice little subdivision in an area of very low crime. You go to a good, affluent school district. You are male.

The world is yours, so to speak.

What I hope for you is that you recognize that privilege and use it for good:

That you give more than you take.

That you listen more than you speak.

That you stand up more than you stay seated.

That you speak out more than you stay silent.

That you shine the light on those who are often in the shadows more than you hog that light for yourself.

I believe you will do these things because you are already very interested in what is right and just. And honestly, we need you–and others your age–to step up because the grown-ups right now are busy making things a mess. There is still so much racism, sexism, classism, ableism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia, xenophia…the list goes on and on. It seems that tolerance and love are buried under a lot of hate and fear.

Eddie, I know that your heart has more acceptance and love in it than anything else.

I know you will help to change the world.

I believe in you, Eddie Bear. I believe you can do what you set out to do. You will fail sometimes, yes. But I think if you are passionate and truly love, you will be successful.

I’m so glad you’re you.

And I am so honored that we are a part of each other.

I love you, my precious son.

Do great things with great love.

Happy 8th birthday.

Love,
Mom

A Dozen Down

 

Hear the sirens.
Hear the sirens.

Hear the sirens,
Hear the circus so profound.
I hear the sirens
More and more in this here town

Let me catch my breath to breathe
And reach across the bed
Just to know we’re safe
I am a grateful man

The slightest bit of light
And I can see you clear
Oh, have to take your hand
And feel your breath for fear this someday will be over

I pull you close, so much to lose knowing that nothing lasts forever
I didn’t care before you were here.
I danced in laughter with the everafter
But all things change
Let this remain

Hear the sirens
Covering distance in the night.
The sound echoing closer.
Will they come for me next time?

For every choice, mistake I’ve made, it’s not my plan
To send you in the arms of another man
And if you choose to stay I’ll wait, I’ll understand

Oh, it’s a fragile thing
This life we lead
If I think too much I can get overwhelmed by the grace
By which we live our lives with death over our shoulders

Want you to know that should I go
I always loved you, held you high above, true.
I study your face, and the fear goes away.

It’s a fragile thing, this life we lead.
If I think too much I can get overwhelmed by the grace
By which we live our lives with death over our shoulder

Want you to know that should I go,
I always loved you, held you high above, true.
I study your face, and the fear goes away,
The fear goes away,
The fear goes away,
The fear goes away.*

*I didn’t have words this year, so I chose Pearl Jam’s “Sirens” lyrics instead.
They say what I feel.
Thank you, Cortney, for holding my hand and making the fear go away.
Every time.
Happy anniversary.

Summer Schedule 2017

One more day. That’s it. After tomorrow the Sluiters will be on the much-anticipated Summer Schedule!

This year it’s a little wonky because the district where I teach went a week longer than usual which puts my last day of school the same as Eddie’s last day. In years past, I always got out a week earlier. That extra time allowed me to do some heavy duty cleaning and organizing to get our Summer Schedule ready for kids to be home. Not so much this year. Starting Monday we are on it!

I have found over the past few summers that having “free-range,” unstructured days in the summer is exponentially related to how much fighting and whining goes on. The Sluiter kids are used to some sort of structure thanks to being in daycare/school since six months old.   Therefore, I try to keep our days to a specific routine that varies slightly each summer due to the ages of the kids.

Generally the boys wake up first and are pretty good at getting themselves settled into watching Netflix without waking me or Alice. This lasts until about 8am when they are allowed to get me up to make breakfast if Alice hasn’t already gotten me up. Since the boys are into shows like Slugterra, I make them choose something more Alice-friendly once she is up. Sometimes she wants PBS, but mostly she is into shows like Pocoyo, Beat Bugs, and Octonauts. Ok, we ALL like Octonauts!

summer schedule

By 10am, we need to be dressed and going somewhere–anywhwere–because the natives will get restless and begin to pick and bicker and it will be a matter of time before all out chaos ensues. Mondays we go to the library, Wednesdays are for the Farmer’s Market, and Fridays we find a park. Tuesdays and Thursdays the kids go to daycare.

After lunch, they can watch a show to settle down before Alice’s nap/boys’ quiet play time. Again, it has to be Alice-friendly.

summer schedule

Then we start the long TV-less afternoon (my favorite part of the day). Alice naps, the boys have to either play downstairs or outside (or rest), and I read, write, or clean something. I’d like to say this part of the day is always nice and peaceful, but Eddie and Charlie are close enough in age where if they are not getting along super great, they are trying to murder each other. There really is no in between. As long as they don’t wake up their sister, I can usually keep my calm.

Just before Alice gets up, they may choose to watch another show. Lately, Eddie has been binge-watching Inspector Gadget since season 3 was just released on Netflix. But he is just as likely to pick Pokemon or something like that too.

Once Alice is up, the boys usually retreat back to the basement or outside and she follows. The TV goes off until bedtime (or until Cortney and I turn on the news). Then I get dinner ready, Cortney comes home from work, and our daily schedule turns into the evening schedule.

I know to some people, I let our kids watch a lot of TV, but I think it’s really all about balance. We also go places, play outside, play with friends, do crafts, and of course read. Letting them veg out in front of some shows they love gives them some down time, and it gives me a break.

What does your summer schedule look like?

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. Netflix provides streaming and a device to stream on, but we choose what we watch and give our honest opinions.

Graduation Bird

“Why do you think you got so emotional this time?” Cortney asked me after all the kids were tucked into bed. I had to pause before answering because it was true; three years ago when it was Eddie graduating, I didn’t have any tears at the ceremony. I smiled and laughed. This time I also smiled and laughed, but there were tears in my eyes the entire time. And it surprised me.

To be honest, I get waves of tears thinking about Charlie and school ever since he started, but especially since parent/teacher conferences in the fall. I admit to worrying about how Charlie would do in school. I think so much of it is because I never know if I’m being the mom he needs. He’s so very different than I am, and so very different than his older brother. Eddie and I can talk about anything. Eddie asks me questions and we wonder together and process together. Charlie holds a lot inside and then explodes because he just doesn’t know what to do with it all.

It can be scary, actually.

When I feel like I’ve made a mistake or failed as a mom with Eddie, we talk about it. I tell him what I am feeling and we process together. Charlie doesn’t give me that chance. He rages and throws things and screams and says the most hurtful things. And then turns his back and is silent. Eventually I know he’s forgiven me when he will crawl up next to me in the chair and lay his head on my arm, but he doesn’t want to talk about it. He doesn’t put words to what happened.

In the fall, we asked his teacher, “does he throw fits if he doesn’t get his way? Has he ever screamed?”

She looked a bit shocked and totally confused. “No. We have never seen that side of Charlie. He’s a quiet leader and a friend to everyone.”

I almost started crying right then and there.

He thrived in preschool. His teachers loved him and “got” him. Mrs. Y is so very organized and knows the importance–especially at this age–of routine and knowing what to expect each day. She is calm and patient and loves each kid for who they are. She is awesome at playing up their strengths, asking about things they love, and being their cheerleader. Mrs. Y is exactly the kind of preschool teacher everyone wants for their kids. I graduated from high school with her, and she is still exactly the same wonderful, beautiful, awesome person she was then. She just loves what she does and it shows!

And then there is Mrs. C. This was her first year in preschool. Our family already knew her because her older son is both in Eddie’s class at school and in his cub scout den. Her husband is a fellow cub scout leader. What we didn’t know was that she is probably the reason Charlie has grown so much over this past year. Mrs. Y is an excellent teacher, but Mrs. C “gets” Charlie in a way most people (myself included) don’t. They are “cut from the same cloth” as she said once. He tells me that she is funny and he likes talking to her during playtime. They have conversations about which Batman is the coolest and they play the game “Who Would Win” which pits one ferocious animal against another (Lion vs Python) and they have to defend who they think would win.  She get him.

He has become so confident this year. Ever since he was a baby, he has not wanted to actually do something until he was sure he could do it just right. I worried that he would get frustrated in school, but with the help of his teachers, the opposite has happened. I can see the world opening up to him as he learns all the letters and their sounds. He is suddenly noticing that all the words in his books SAY SOMETHING. He spells by sound and stands up a little taller when he gets it right. I can see the wheels turning in his head and his mouth feeling the sounds before he announces, “D-O-G spells DOG!”

I knew Eddie would be a natural fit for school: he makes friends easily, loves to be around kids, is outgoing and eager to participate, and wants to make the people in his life happy and proud. Charlie is just different. He’s more reserved, prefers the company of adults, can be stubborn (so very stubborn), and is just not very verbal. So the entire experience was different.

But my tears last night still caught me by surprise. I think it, again, boils down to how different my boys are. Three years ago, Eddie was excited to get up on that stage and sing his heart out. He was excited to be the center of attention. He was excited for what Kindergarten would bring.

Charlie, on the other hand, has a really hard time with transitions. For a week or so now, knowing preschool was coming to an end, brought fits and rages at home. Only once did he say to me, “you can’t make me be done with preschool. I will go forever,” but I am pretty sure all the nonverbal fit-throwing has been part of his transition. We saw this when his first daycare mom closed her business and he had to change. We saw it a month before preschool started. And we are seeing it now that preschool is ending. My boy does not like change.

I brought him over to his class last night before the program while Cortney and my parents found us seats. He didn’t sit by his class, rather he hovered in a doorway while I talked to Mrs. Y. When I went to tell him I was going to sit down, he did something very un-Charlie: he grabbed me in a big hug and pleaded with me not to leave him. “I’m scared, Mom Mom.” My boy who never expresses his feelings looked me in the eyes and told me his big feelings and I had to fight back the tears and the urge to sit on that stage with him.

The whole time he was turning my necklace pendant over in his hands. He calls it an egg and loves to hold it when I wear it and feel its smooth surface. It’s removable, so I unclasped it and said, “how about you hold on to this for me in your pocket during the program.” His eyes got big and he said, “So it will be like you will be with me and I will be brave.” Again the wave of tears threatened. He gets so much more than he ever lets on.

“That’s right,” I said and I hugged him again. “I’m going to go sit by Daddy and everyone. I’ll see you out there, Buddy.” He nodded and fingered the pendant in his breast pocket.

He sang all the songs and said all the poems.

When it was time for him to walk and get his “diploma”, my mom bet me five bucks he wouldn’t smile. It was a decent bet. When nervous, Charlie is almost incapable of smiling. But the minute he walked through the door with his little cap on, he had a big grin on his face. My mom said it was the best five bucks she ever lost.

Congratulations, Charlie. We are so SO proud of you and all you have accomplished this school year. We are excited to see what Kindergarten will bring. Way to go, Bird Man!

The Uncomfortable Brightness of Motherhood

Motherhood is weird, right?

We long for a light in the darkness, and yet…

sometimes the sun shines so brightly that we have to squint and shade our eyes and smile through it even though it’s almost painful.

We work so hard for these sunny times that even though they are often blinding, we will take them.

My Eddie with his eyes shielded, looking forward for his mom with his hand on my shoulder.

My Charlie squinting and throwing up rock n roll horns even through the sting of the sun for his mom mom with his other hand on my back.

My Alice closing her eyes and smiling because momma said to and she trusts me completely while gripping my arm tightly.

These kids man.

Not what I expected at all.

Uncomfortable at times.

But Better.

Brighter.

Charlie’s Card he made me in Preschool. My boy knows me so well!

 

 

Inked

Much to my mother’s chagrin, I got another tattoo this weekend.

All tattoos have a story, don’t they? Even the ones that are “I just thought it was cute and wanted one because I was in college and being a rebel.” There is always a reason.

Ten years ago a few things happened: I found out I was pregnant, I lost that pregnancy, I started a blog, and I got a tattoo. I would say it was a busy year, but that is pretty much just how our married life has been. Highs and lows with very little in between.

When I started this blog I called it our Family Website. I was going to post photos and write little blurbs about what was going on in our life. I think in the first couple years of this blog’s life I probably only wrote a handful of things that were real and not just superficial “look at this fun day at the beach;” my tattoo post was one of them.

Contrary to what my mom probably thinks, I don’t take permanently “disfiguring” myself lightly (Cortney’s words in jest, not my mom’s). The first time, I tattooed what my students think is a V on my neck. It’s not a V. It’s two things: it’s the Aries sign and it’s also the Egyptian hieroglyphic for “woman.” You can read that post up there for more details, but basically after getting unexpectedly pregnant when I wasn’t sure that I ever wanted babies, then miscarrying that baby (and feeling like it was my fault), Cortney and I realized we wanted to be parents. Women’s bodies are strong, yo. That tattoo was for womanly strength.

Since then I have been writing.

Before I knew I had an anxiety disorder or depression or OCD or needed medication or therapy, I wrote to get it out of my head.

When I was having intrusive thoughts, I wrote them out of my head and then destroyed the evidence.

When I realized that one of my biggest fears in life was being forgotten and lost in time and space, I wrote out my stories.

When I decided to turn all of my passion for reading and writing and education into a PhD program, I wrote articles and journal pieces and conference proposals.

When I wanted my children to know me as I am in this moment, I wrote letters.

When I acted too impulsively or said things without thinking or made an ass of myself, I wrote to apologize.

When I missed or loved or thought of people, I wrote to them.

When I wanted my students to learn to write, I wrote with them.

Writing has kept me alive for the past ten years.

I’m placing my faith in writing to keep me alive forever.

Write.

It’s a command.

Write.

 

 

 

ps. My mom is not really that upset.

pps. Yes she is.

ppps. I love you, mom. Thanks for loving me despite my disfigurement.

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